Expert Interview Series: Starza Thompson of Mindsight on Intelligent Data Management
Starza Thompson, of gomindsight.com, is an award-winning digital and social media marketer who specializes in SEO, SEM, social media, brand strategy and more. This interview is conducted with the help of Jason Wankovsky, VP of Solutions Architects at Mindsight.
We recently asked Starza and Jason for their insight on preparing for their IT needs in the future and better managing their data. Here’s what they shared:
Tell us about the mission at The Mindsight. How are you hoping to help businesses with their IT needs?
As a technology consulting firm, Mindsight provides thoughtfully crafted and thoroughly vetted perspectives—not simply “canned solutions”— to our clients’ toughest technology challenges. Our recommendations come from our experienced and talented team and are based on a solid understanding of our clients’ unique business and technology challenges.
Not only are we great listeners, but we also believe in being fully transparent and completely candid, which leads to more productive interactions. It’s all about providing the best thinking to achieve the best result and business solutions without the unexpected surprises.
Our mission is to help our clients overcome the challenges of supporting a modern IT environment. The technology industry is changing. Five years ago, businesses could call upon value-added-resellers to help them deploy IT hardware in their environment, but hardware isn’t the answer anymore. Everything is moving towards the cloud and services.
In this climate, clients don’t need someone to deploy a new server. They need a partner and a consultant to help them navigate the dozens of solutions and services that may all look the same on the surface. Mindsight provides that and more.
What are the common pain points you’re helping your clients address? Where are businesses experiencing the most frustration with IT today?
Mindsight provides both the availability and depth of technical capabilities. It can be extremely difficult for companies to recruit and keep enough technical talent to run a modern IT environment, but through Managed Services, our clients can leverage our decades of experience. Eighty percent of our engineers have advanced certifications, and they are available to our clients for individual projects, consulting and managed services.
The most frustrating aspect of IT today is the clock. There’s only so much time in the day, and IT directors are constantly running from one fire to another. Businesses invest a lot of resources into their IT environment and team, but the return on investment is muted. The average IT department simply doesn’t have the time to think strategically about how technology can drive the business towards their goals.
What should businesses be doing to prepare for their future technology needs? Where should they be investing time and money?
Future technology needs are largely dependent upon the business in question. However, in every industry, those at the forefront are the businesses that have embraced and adopted technology. Sure, there are non-technical solutions to age-old problems in every industry, but it doesn’t scale. Businesses should be evaluating their own technology solutions to determine in what ways they can advance and take advantage of better opportunities in the market. With that in mind, businesses need to invest in technologies that solve the scalability problem.
How should businesses approach creating a Data Management strategy? What should they prioritize?
Once again, the answer may vary depending on the business. For example, certain regulatory and compliance pressures could dictate your data management strategy. As a whole, businesses should try to create a tiered approach to their data. Ask yourself. What data drives the business forward? In sales that could be a CRM, for example. That is your priority data, and it should be readily available at all times. From there, categorize data by age, frequency of access and relevance.
What are the benefits of having a well-thought-out Data Management strategy?
If done properly, the business will remain in compliance and avoid fines and headaches. For some companies, compliance is not a factor, but a data management strategy also opens the door to developing a disaster recovery (DR) solution at a lower cost and higher success rate. With a proper DR solution in place, businesses can avoid the reputation damage from the loss of data.
Why is having high-quality data important to the success of a business? What are the risks of not having quality data?
With a pool of high-quality data, businesses can deploy analytics tools to analyze the information. They can see their strengths, correct their weaknesses and make better business decisions. Without this data, the business runs the risk of not following the processes of their competitors. Those who are succeeding in the field are almost certainly wielding technology to gain a great insight into their business. This risk, put simply, is falling behind.
What are best practices for ensuring data is reliable?
Data reliability is about classification, archiving, backups, disaster recovery and high availability. The data needs to be organized and labeled. It needs to be archived with reliable backups at the ready. As a failsafe, the business needs a disaster recovery plan, and the data needs to be available when it’s needed. Above all, these methods need to be tested.
How often should brands be backing up their data? What are the most effective methods for data backup?
Business data should be backed up at least once a day, if not more depending on the rate of change, the complexity and the importance of that data.
Some of the most effective methods of backup are disk-based solutions that only process the changed data blocks rather than recording the whole archive every day. Furthermore, these backup solutions should have high rates of compression and deduplucation. The data should be backed up locally and safely transferred to a second location. If the business has a disaster recovery solution in place, it is very important that the backup data is in the same place as your secondary recovery site.
What about data security? How should businesses approach data security today? Why is it so critical to have a good plan?
As businesses move more and more data to the cloud, they need to recognize that the data security strategies of the past may not be enough to both protect your data and ensure your cloud deployment performs as expected. The cloud is fast, agile and scalable. Legacy security strategy is still rigid and comparatively slow. By combining them together, it detracts from the reasons companies move to the cloud in the first place.
To protect the cloud, we recommend a solution built for the cloud. By leveraging a Security as a Service agreement, clients gain the services of a designated security operations center, advanced monitoring tools and greater insight into their network. Most importantly, they gain these tools while still preserving the benefits of the cloud.
Tell us about any trends or innovations in Big Data you’re following about today. Why do they excite you?
Big data provides a wide range of intelligence. By analyzing the massive pool of data, the business can see everything it has ever done. With that level of insight, the business can pinpoint what led to their success and what caused their failures, and respond accordingly.